Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Kingdom Heart novels. This one covers the Chain of Memories game which was always a fun follow up to the original. The story was a lot more intense as you could say that the plot finally started here. This novel is quite a bit larger than the first as it has 2 Sora stories plus the Riku one. It clocks in at a clean 400 pages and makes for a pretty epic read from start to finish.

The first novel finished with Sora, Donald, and Goofy being split up from Riku and King Mickey as the latter stayed behind the door of Kingdom Hearts in order to shut it to save the world. Sora vowed to find them once more and Kairi stayed behind on the island. Unfortunately, something seems off. While the heroes were on a road, they suddenly find themselves at a castle and a mysterious individual warns that as they go through it, they will lose their memories. At the same time, they will gain new ones to replace the old memories that they have lost. Sora decides that they must press on and so the heroes continue.

You can definitely say that this is one of the toughest challenges that the heroes have encountered. What they don’t realize is that the castle is owned by Organization XIII. They are using a girl named Namine to rewrite Sora’s memories. She deletes his memories of Kairi and slowly inserts herself into them instead. She begins deleting his memories of his friends as well to the point where Sora begins to forget everything. This starts to cause some tension between the 3 heroes, but fortunately they’ve been through a lot so this doesn’t lead to any big split like in the first novel. Donald and Goofy know something is wrong, but their memories are being tampered with as well so it’s difficult to fight back. You can’t stop an opponent that you don’t even know you are fighting after all.

One of the challenges of the Castle is that Sora must revisit all of the worlds that he visited in the first novel. Admittedly, this part can be a little repetitious. Even more so since I just finished reading the first novel a few days ago. During each chapter, I would just look forward to the parts where he would leave the world and fight with the Organization XIII members. That and the new inner monologue were the most important parts. The actual worlds progressed in just about the same way as the first time around. That’s basically the point, but it doesn’t make those challenges too engaging.

Finally, Sora also has to watch out because the villains created a fake Riku to mess with his mind even further. Fortunately, Sora deals with this fairly well. He does suffer from a ton of self doubt in this novel but considering the circumstances, I suppose it makes sense. Sora’s definitely a great lead and acts as a real hero throughout these trials. Even when he finds out that Namine has been manipulating him, he decides to aid her since it wasn’t totally of her own volition and he claims that even if he never made the promise to protect her, the memory of it (Fake or otherwise) makes it real so he’ll live up to it. It’s an interesting concept and one that I can agree with. (As long as the fake promise wasn’t anything crazy) Donald and Goofy’s roles are a lot smaller here, but they’re good sidekicks to have around. They could maybe use more character at times, but as long as they don’t betray Sora or anything, we’re good.

The Riku story at the end takes place at the same time as Sora’s adventure although it ends after the first one. Since their main target is Sora, the Organization doesn’t bother to mess with Riku’s memories. They don’t even know that he has infiltrated the castle at first since everyone thought it would be impossible to escape from Kingdom Hearts. Riku spends most of the novel trying to fight off the darkness so he can be friends with Sora again, but this is a tough challenge. It’s one that becomes even more difficult once the Organization notices him. Surprisingly, he only gets about half of his own story though. Fake Riku (Replica) gets the other half as he tries to become a real person by destroying the original and taking down Sora.

I actually preferred the Riku story to the Sora one. Since Riku kept his memories, it made his experiences in the various planets feel fresh. After all, we never got to see him there originally so in that sense it was already new. Throw in the fact that Ansem, Maleficent and all of the other villains kept jumping in and the whole thing got even better. Also, as cool as Sora is, Riku’s even better. He’s the intense rival that every good series needs and he fills the role perfectly. Walking the path of light and dark is definitely only something he could do. It was also nice to see Mickey show up even if he didn’t do much til the end. As with most things in the series, it was still a little vague how they escaped and why Mickey has telepathic abilities, but we’ll roll with it. Part of the fun with the series is that the mysteries continue to grow, but the vague statements all amount to something by the end. Since I’ve already played the rest of the games, what they’re saying makes a lot of sense the whole time. I’m sure once I play Kingdom Hearts III there will be a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense. That’s just how it goes.

Replica was also a decently good character. You can’t help but feel bad for him when the Organization forces him to have his memory wiped. At least he tries to stop them, but he was a little out of his league. The villains were also pretty good. There were quite a few of them and they all had different personalities. I do question the power levels though. The girl was able to detect Replica pretty easily, but then Sora was able to take her down for the count. I don’t think the difference in power should have been that great. At times, Sora also seems outmatched against the Organization while at other moments he seems to be out of their league. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that he should be able to hold his own against them in Kingdom Harts III. By then he will have more than enough experience needed to take them down now…as a Keyblade Master!

Overall, This was a fun follow up to the first novel. It was definitely quite a bit more epic since the gang was already together and I really liked Castle Oblivion. The repetition in the worlds was maybe a little tiresome, but that was overshadowed by the increased amount of fights in the arc. I also felt like the fights had more stakes since Sora was up against sentient antagonists as opposed to normal heartless. I expect that the novel adaption of Kingdom Hearts II will be even better and will continue bringing up the series. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it!

Overall 8/10

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

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It’s time for one of Disney’s most iconic films of all time. Snow White is a tale that everyone knows about and I dare say that they are aware of the general plot as well. It’s always fun to see the original adaption because the specifics will still be different than you may recall. For example, I didn’t remember the intro being so long in this film. The actual action doesn’t start until you’ve made a lot of progress in the film already. It’s a pretty fun film. Parts of it have aged better than others, but the pacing is good and it’s over rather quickly.

The film starts off the Queen worrying about who the fairest lady in all the land could be. The mirror hints that Snow White has surpassed her so the Queen forces her to be a maid/slave. This works for a while, but Snow White’s beauty continues to level up with each passing year. The Queen hires a Huntsman to take Snow White down for the count, but he too gets captivated and warns her to escape. The Queen decides that she’ll have to get involved personally. Meanwhile, Snow White befriends a bunch of dwarves and is fairly safe in theory. What can an old queen hope to do against these powerful miners? Not much, not much at all!

Fortunately for her they are away for most of the day. The Queen isn’t one of Disney’s more interesting villains as she doesn’t actually have a lot of personality. She’s just very vain and wants to be as beautiful as she can be. She took the title by force and I wonder how many people she’d had to bump off to reach the top. I imagine it must have been a lot. Her poison apple is certainly a useful tactic even if it wouldn’t work on most main characters. If she had only brought her lightning shield with her, the ending could have been very different.

As for Snow White, she’s a nice lead I suppose. She is very naive which is a problem in these tricky times. That being said, she knows how to make a good first impression and is easy to get along with. She may have less personality than some of the other Disney princesses, but she has heart. There’s nothing wrong with her as she’s basically a perfect heroine. Of course, to be truly perfect she will need to learn how to fight. The Prince has even less personality and is basically just trying to find a princess. He comes through when it counts in the end, but it’s hard to say whether this makes him a great character or his goal just coincided with her path to being alive again.

The characters that I didn’t like are the Dwarves. Their exaggerated personalities ensure that they are all annoying, just in different ways. It’s hard to like them at all as characters and since they couldn’t even protect Snow White in the end…what was the point of them? I wouldn’t have minded if we had gotten 3 Bears instead. If you understand that reference then you’re already ahead of the curve. I think it would be hard to make them good characters due in large part to the very concept behind them. You would have to completely change the characters.

The animation is pretty good. As with just about all of Disney’s classic animations, it looks very smooth. You can see how effort was put into all of the frames and it is quite telling that it looks better than some modern shows. Th animation is bright and you can always see what is happening. The designs have become iconic over the years and I can see why since they work well. Surprisingly, I wouldn’t say that this film has an exceptional soundtrack though. None of the music/song tracks are all that memorable and I can’t say that I remember any at the moment. Perhaps I need to give it a revisit, but some films are memorable from the start. I’d use Let It Go from Frozen as an example…but I just did in this sentence.

Disney’s been remaking a bunch of their old films lately so I can definitely see this one showing up as well at some point. There would definitely need to be a bunch of changes, but that’s part of the fun with the remakes. Seeing how they modernize the story without actually changing it. For example, I doubt they’d play it straight with the poison apple since that’s basically a meme at this point. I also like to think that the Prince’s role will either be changed or he’ll have more screen time before the pivotal moment. No matter what they do though, I’m sure Disney will do the film justice. It’s the kind of film that you certainly don’t want to take lightly since it’s so well known. I’d like to see the film expand a little more on Snow White’s ability to communicate with all of the animals. After all, if Universal can create a Dark Universe and make all of their old monster films supernatural, why can’t Disney give all of its iconic princesses cool super powers? I think that would actually be pretty neat. (So long as Snow White doesn’t send the animals off into battle)

Overall, Snow White is a fun film. From the Disney Princess films, I dare say that it has the lightest plot though. At least half of the film is basically just Snow White hanging out with her animal buddies and teaching them how to keep the house neat. The evil queen doesn’t appear as much as you’d expect and the Prince’s total screen time is probably under 5 minutes. The film’s very short, which helps for pacing, but I fear that it worked against the film when it comes to the story. Everything had to be rushed through which makes the events appear to speed along. That being said, it did get legendary for a reason. It’s still solid overall and I’d recommend checking it out. After all, how can you call yourself a film fan if you haven’t watched this classic?

Overall 6/10

Moana Review

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It’s time for a fairly recent animated film although it feels a little old by now. We haven’t gotten too many films that take place in the islands. Lilo and Stitch is one of the only big ones that I can think of. I’m perfectly okay with this since the big cities are where I like the films to stay. It just makes for a more engaging backdrop. That being said, the film did have some pretty nice visuals along the way thanks to the nice action scene at the end. It’s a good film, but one that does have some issues.

The plot revolves around a girl named Moana. She is destined to rule the island at some point so she is learning as much as she can. That being said, she wants to venture off the island because she feels too constricted there. It’s prohibited because of a risky endeavor led by her father. The choice is taken out of her hands when she is chosen to save the world by delivering a relic to an island where it was stolen long ago. She’ll need to enlist the help of Maui, a demigod whose abilities are matched only by his intelligence. He really doesn’t want to help, but he gets taken along for the ride. Can these two really manage to get the stone to the island where they will have to face off against Te Ka? It certainly won’t be easy!

Moana is a good main character. I’d want to leave the island if I was in her shoes as well. The economy wasn’t going well and the job market seemed to be wearing thin as well. The village simply needed new materials and she would have to venture out to get them. Moana is very determined and keeps getting back on the track no matter how many times Maui fails. The ocean’s blessing was also super useful since it meant that Moana couldn’t drown. She had a little crisis of self confidence towards the second half of the film, but fortunately she managed to get past it.

Unfortunately, Moana is perfectly countered by Maui who is one of the worst Disney “heroes” that I’ve ever seen. There is absolutely nothing heroic about this guy. He seriously tries to drown Moana in one scene and then leaves her to die in a blocked off cave in another. Fortunately, the ocean saved her the first time and she found an exit the second. The fact that Maui tried to murder her is glossed over later on and his attempts grow less drastic as time goes on. That being said, he was already too far gone for me to see him as a likable character. Even up to the end, Maui is really just fighting for himself and his ego.

What makes this even worse is the fact that Maui isn’t even very tough. On the contrary, I’d say that he is actually very weak. He can’t really hold his own against anybody. He gets wrecked by a giant crab and doesn’t even put up a good fight against the fire demon. Maui is really just one of those characters who is all talk and no action. He gets old rather quickly. For the other supporting characters, we also have Moana’s father and her grand mother. The Dad gets annoying pretty quick as he tries to stop Moana since he lost in his mission a while back. I definitely don’t think leaving the island should be banned. The grandmother is nice and seems to know a lot, but she also does act a little crazy half the time. Her antics probably could have been dialed down a notch.

There are two main villains here. The first one is Tamatoa, a giant crab who sparkles. This guy humiliates Maui quite a lot so I was on board with that. He’s a fairly intimidating villain as well even if he is easy to trick. He made for some pretty fun scenes so I was glad to have him on board. He didn’t seem that strong, but his strength was ultimately enough anyway. The other big villain is Te Ka, who defeated Maui so completely that the poor guy was scarred for life. Te Ka’s fire abilities were pretty great and the heroes definitely didn’t seem like they had a chance against her. That being said, it does lead to one of the film’s biggest plot holes. Te Ka is probably the best character in the film.

Here’s where the plot gets messy. Okay, the whole point is that the ocean is sentient in this film and wants Moana to save the day. She needs to get the pendent/stone/mcguffin to the island to seal the demon. Here’s where the plot falls apart. We learn that the water can move and walk around. It can grab things and shoot blasts of water. Why isn’t the ocean just placing the item back itself? From what we see in the movie, it would be very easy to stun the fire demon and place it. After all, the ocean finally does take the fire demon down in one shot when it acts at the end. The fire demon keeps healing so it’s not down for the count, but it would be long enough for the water to finish the job. There is no reason for it not to act and I feel like this is a glaring hole in the film’s script/plot. It just made no sense and I was puzzled about that during the entire film.

The film isn’t very long so the pacing is relatively sound. Quite a lot happens during the time frame as the heroes have to reclaim Maui’s weapon, fight off pirates, and go on a bunch of adventures. I have to say that Maui’s shape shifting was as underwhelming as you’d expect though. He made a big deal about how he would get super tough once he had his weapon back and he still had a habit of getting knocked around by everyone. I was just surprised that he never lived up to his own hype.

The animation looks pretty good. The water is crispy and clear. The energy blasts and disaster zone with Te Ka are also visually striking. It’s a pretty well made movie all around in terms of the visuals. The character designs are also on point and I certainly didn’t notice any animation errors. By and large, the writing is pretty good as well. It’s nothing special, but it doesn’t make any mistakes so that is most certainly a good thing.

The humor can be a bit weak in this film. One of the main comedy subplots is that Moana has a bird who can’t really think straight. This means that he is always getting lost, pecking the ground, or just getting in everyone’s way. There’s nothing really fun about seeing a bird just crash into everything all the time and I could never get behind the plot. As far as animal mascots go, this one was a complete dud.

Overall, Moana is a good film. It goes by fairly quick and has some nice action scenes at the end. What holds it back is mainly Maui. The guy is just unbearable whenever he’s on screen and comes off as a total jerk. The bird subplot certainly didn’t do the film any favors either. It’s a fun flick, but odds are that you’ll find yourself choosing something else to watch. There’s nothing that this film does particularly well that isn’t completely surpassed by a better film. Don’t even get me started on comparing the songs to the classic “Let It Go” That won’t end well. Still, if you’re in the mood for a tropical animated film, there aren’t a lot of other options. This will definitely be the option for you.

Overall 6/10

Boat Builders Review

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It’s time for another water themed Disney short. The gang has come back together for one last ride as they work to build a boat, but do they have the expertise for it? After all, as fearsome as this trio is, they don’t have a whole lot of experience when it comes to manufacturing. Maybe it’s time for them to quit while they’re ahead. The tricky part is that Minnie is sending them off so Mickey can’t back down now. Somehow…he has to find a way to win!

Each of the characters has their own plot as per usual. For Goofy, he finds a manequin in a box and quickly panics. He isn’t used to working with figures and clearly hasn’t started collecting them yet. While he panics, Mickey takes her away to be the ship’s figure head. Goofy also gets beat up by the wood boards that he had been gluing. It was a pretty painful experience for him that’s for sure. His plot was the weakest in this special.

Donald actually had a good handle on his part for a change. He was painting the ship rather well until Mickey sabotaged the controls and started slapping Donald. He tried to hint that it wasn’t intentional in the slightest, but I have my doubts if we’re being honest. It seemed a little too deliberate for him to not realize what he was doing. Donald took it in stride though and tried to fight back, he just wasn’t able to win.

Mickey’s was more about general building. He didn’t really get to do anything in particular. When the boat fell apart at the end, Mickey did take it in stride though. He just laughed it off and got ready for the next adventure. That’s why Mickey’s always been the leader of the group. Everything just bounces off of him and he keeps the group connected. Next time he should probably ask Minnie Mouse not to smash a bottle on the boat though. It actually could have made it to the ocean otherwise. Sure, it probably would have sunk rather early on in the adventure since it clearly wasn’t very durable, but at least they would have had a proper send off right? I definitely don’t understand the tradition or wasting a wine bottle and damaging the ship at the same time. It just doesn’t feel right.

This special is older than the last one, but the animation is as consistent as always. Seeing Mickey’s older design is always a little unnerving since he feels like a different character at times. This Mickey was certainly a lot more energetic and mischievous although the latter side didn’t get to show much this time. He was too busy working.

Overall, This is another good special. It’s a little more bland than the Tugboat adventure which is why it’s a star lower, but it’s still a good adventure. Once again this special is only around 7 minutes so that is really done in a breeze. I definitely wouldn’t mind if we still got specials like this nowadays. If Disney had kept it up for all of these years, they’d likely have well over 1000 by now. Of course, coming up with that many plots could be tricky. After all, there isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in these so you have to illustrate everything and that’s usually tougher in modern programs. Still, if anyone can do it, it’s Disney.

Overall 6/10

Tugboat Mickey Review

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It’s time for another Disney short. I think it’s safe to say that Mickey Mouse has been in a lot of adventures but this may have been the toughest one yet. He owns a boat in this story along with Goofy and Donald. The boat wasn’t fully completed yet as it had a bunch of repairs that still needed to be done, but then the group hears an SOS signal and naturally they cannot ignore it. They have to speed up the repairs and get ready to head out, but can they make it in time?

This is easily one of the better specials. As always, I like seeing the group together. Part of what makes it fun as well is the trick ending. Turns out that the SOS signal was actually a fake and it was just coming from a radio. There’s a twist within the twist though as the signal appears to be sentient because the machine starts to drown when Mickey and co. attack it. You also have to wonder what kind of show was being played since it claimed that this was the final episode. Everyone drowns in the end? Well gosh, that’s a bold ending. At least Mickey didn’t take this lying down though, the least our heroes can do is break the recording to stop others from meeting a similar fate.

The animation is pretty smooth as always. I saw this special back to back with another one that had Mickey’s classic design so it was cool to notice how it changed as the years go by. Mickey has always adapted with the times to the point where it’s hard for me to say what the best design was. He’s a solid lead although Donald steals the show as always. Goofy isn’t bad this time as his role is fairly good. One advantage that this special had over some of the others was that the jokes didn’t go on for too long and they basically all worked this time. Maybe a boat special was just what we needed.

The Donald plot had him go up against a sentient steam pusher which got in some epic burns. It had the best lines of the special. Donald may have lost the fight, but not the war. Goofy had to fight with a latch opener that kept throwing his coal back at him. Goofy definitely wasn’t going to be getting past this guy very easily. Mickey actually had the weakest plot as a drunk bird kept messing with his painting skills. There’s not a whole lot you can do with that plot after all, but the special tried.

Overall, Tugboat Mickey is a fun special. It’s only around 7 minutes so it’s over in the blink of an eye. The short length always helps for these specials so they don’t drag on or anything. If it was gonna be feature length, then you’d probably need more of an actual plot here. If you’ve enjoyed the Disney specials so far then you should add this one to your collection.

Overall 7/10

Thru the Mirror Review

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Thru The Mirror brings us even further back into Disney’s roots as it is a solo Mickey Mouse adventure. The good news is that this means Goofy isn’t present…the bad news is that Donald also isn’t around. Mickey can usually hold his own special no problem but he isn’t able to talk in this special. That makes the task a great deal more difficult. It’s an entertaining short, but one that could have used more dialogue.

The short starts up with Mickey’s soul being thrown out of his body. It’s at this point that Mickey realizes he may never go back to his body again so he decides to have fun messing around in the real world. He doesn’t get to stay there for long though as he enters Wonderland and must now struggle to stay alive against an army of Cards and a vengeful King. Fortunately for Mickey, he is actually a great swordsman and this is good foreshadowing for the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

The animation is nice and smooth as always. The soundtrack was more limited and less eventful than the last two specials, but it still wasn’t bad. It is definitely interesting to see Mickey’s old design here since it is such a contrast to the one we are all used too. It helps you buy into the different personality a little better though.It’s hard to imagine modern Mickey being so rebellious and messing with people the way that he does here.

What you’re probably wondering now is…was the King acting rashly or did he make the right call? I can safely say that it’s the latter. Mickey went too far when he danced with the Queen and I’m glad that the King arrived to put him in his place. The fight may not have gone as well as the King would have hoped, but it wasn’t super one sided either. He made Mickey sweat and I’m sure that the mouse will have second thoughts before crossing him again.

The rest of the Alice in Wonderland cameos and elements were fun as well. It’s definitely a legend that is used quite a lot as many different titles have been inspired by it. It wouldn’t be the last time that Disney would head back to this arena either. Hopefully Mickey brings Donald around next time so we can have some banter between him and the Cheshire Cat. At the very least, I’d like Mickey to bring along his keyblade so we can have some real fights.

Overall, Thru The Mirror is a fun special that has aged reasonably well. I would have liked it more if Mickey could talk though. Dialogue is just so important in a movie because it lets you become one with the film and only then can you embrace it to its full potential. Oh well, it’s still a fun way to spend 15 minutes and after that you can get a milkshake as you continue to remember the good ole days.

Overall 6/10

Clock Cleaners Review

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Mickey, Donald, and Goofy have finally found steady jobs as clock cleaners. Unfortunately the clock seems to be alive and doesn’t like to be cleaned. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are systematically attacked and defeated. We all know that they have absolutely no chance of winning here so the question is…how badly will they be pounded? I may as well say that the clock gets in a lot of serious hits. Possibly even lethal ones.

As always, Donald was the most interesting member in the group. He actually defeated his part of the clock until Mickey and Goofy wrecked it. Donald’s soap voice just doesn’t get old. Mickey’s plot isn’t bad as he spends a lot of time getting beat up by a bird. To his defense, it was a pretty tough bird who wasn’t playing around! He wanted his sleep and nothing was gonna stop him.

Goofy’s plot is the weakest as expected. He gets smashed by a few golden hammers and this causes him to go loopy. He keeps almost jumping off the skyscraper so then Mickey has to save him. The effects of the hit certainly lasted a while as well since Goofy stayed that way for the rest of the special. I wanted to be more sympathetic but he didn’t handle the situation very well.

The animation is pretty nice and fluid the whole time. Disney’s style has certainly aged very well over the years which is most impressive. The designs are all iconic and they certainly got famous so the company knew what people wanted to see. The sound effects and music aren’t bad either. The main clock theme is quite catchy.

Now, I suppose the real question you’re all wondering here is who was in the right..Mickey or the bird? You may not be surprised to hear that I was on the bird’s side 100%. He can sleep wherever he wants and we just have to deal with it. Clearly Mickey wasn’t on the same page, but that’s totally on him. I’m glad that the Bird fought for his American rights and never gave up even when the going got tough. There was no tie and the victor was never in doubt. This bird wasn’t playing around!

Overall, it’s another fun Disney special to add to your viewing history and I’d recommend checking it out. The special is very short so it’s not as if it’ll take a whole lot of time to watch and it’s fairly timeless. You can watch it in any year and it’ll be just as fun as you can recall. It’s definitely interesting to see how Mickey and the gang changed over the years.

Overall 7/10

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

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Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time for the sequel to the original Guardians to see if it can live up to the reputation of the first one. Unfortunately, it definitely could not. The film’s own premise hurts it quite a lot as the main characters succeed at all being very unlikable jerks for the most part. That seems to be the point so to the film…You’re welcome! Unfortunately, this just isn’t an angle that they should have pursued. Still, thanks to a key scene and some nice action scenes along the way, the film was able to avoid an unfortunate fate.

Peter and the Guardians start the film out by getting into trouble as per usual. They decide to steal from their employers and are quickly found out. Fortunately, they have the help of Star Lord’s Dad who destroys most of the attacking ships and helps the heroes escape. He wants Peter to come to his planet to hang out so Gamora and Drax go along with him. Rocket and Groot stay behind to watch Nebula, the villain that the heroes picked up so they could get the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, they have a run in with Yondu. Meanwhile, Peter’s Dad may not be what he seems!

This is a pretty big movie so there’s certainly a lot to talk about. Lets start with the worst character in the film, Groot. I don’t know how this guy got to be such a fan favorite character. He was bad in the first film and he’s extraordinarily terrible in this film. He’s nothing but a big bully and he gives the film an extremely rocky start from which I don’t think it ever truly recovered. It can’t really be totally blamed on the opening since the film never really tried to get away from this, but it was a sign of things to come. Groot picks on a pair of creatures for no reason and then tries to eat a poor butterfly. It’s supposed to be a funny scene which shows just how twisted the humor is nowadays.

Now, Groot’s appeal is supposed to be that he’s cute because of how dumb and mean he is. Groot only cares about himself and never moves an inch to help his friends. Any scene with him is incredibly hard to sit through. One scene in particular which drags on a lot has him try to find something during a prison escape scene. He keeps on bringing the wrong things including a severed toe which was just gross and completely unnecessary. We get it, Groot is brainless. We knew that during the first film…why did the film have to shove it in our face the whole time? Groot was just terrible and I agree with critics that he was a scene stealer…just in the absolute worst possible way.

Next is Drax…who somehow found a way to be even worse and more unlikable than in the first film. One running gag as per usual is that he takes everything literally. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also grown even more grotesque and barbaric with his mannerisms. He talks about how his people are proud of talking about rather vile stuff and calls Mantis ugly multiple times. It’s fortunate that she is extremely naive so the insults went over her head. He’s just a very mean person which is why he fits in with the gang quite well. It’s just a shame that he’s such a terrible character. When you have Drax and Groot on the same team…you know that something’s wrong.

Next up is Rocket. Finally, we’ve got a step up from the other two. He’s the same Rocket that you’ll remember from the first film only he’s a lot meaner. Gee…what a surprise Rocket gets the gang into a lot of trouble but the team wouldn’t last long without his gadgets anyway so I suppose it’s a fair tradeoff. He’s surprisingly not very smart at times as Rocket can’t pick up on sarcasm or recognize insults when he hears them. I feel like he’s less intelligent than he was in the first film. Still, that’s fine since he still has his personality fully in tact. Rocket knows how to use his guns and does a good job of annoying Peter. We fortunately don’t dive too far into his origin story either as I got worried for a minute when Yondu started talking. Crisis averted. The winking subplot probably has Rocket’s best moments.

Gamora is my favorite character in this film. She’s still the only member who really knows what she’s doing. Gamora is actually trying to make the world a better place and she also knows all of the members well enough to know when something is wrong. She gives Peter a pep talk, helps Groot most of the time even when he doesn’t deserve it and she comes close to figuring out the sinister planet’s secret. She also does a good job of handling the situation with Nebula. It was a little hard to take Nebula seriously the whole time as a villain since she wasn’t very powerful but the film helps to fix that as well.

Finally, there’s Peter. After watching the TV show for so long, it took a little bit to get used to this version of the character again. At least he is trying to get away from his old flirting tendencies. If he can keep this up, this will really help him as a character. Peter is certainly a much better character than he used to be now that he is just focusing on one person. He does get a little unsympathetic though when he is tricked so easily. Thinking that Gamora is just jealous was pretty silly and I don’t think he was being mentally influenced at the time so it was all him. His reaction after learning a certain plot twist was also on point as well. Instantly blasting away and hitting all of the vitals was the optimal response. No questions like “But why!”, stuttering, going into shock, or any of the other terrible responses. Peter should never have been sucked in so easily prior to this, but at least he rectified the mistake.

There were also a few supporting characters. Yondu gets a fairly large role along with a lot of character development. I’m still not a fan of the character, but I do like his arrow. It’s certainly a potent weapon. Similar to Quicksilver getting a larger version of his scene in Apocalypse compared to Days of Future Past, Yondu gets a larger scale scene to use his arrow in this time. It’s a very good trick and if he was going all out he could likely do well against the cinematic Avengers. I highly doubt it would have an effect on the Hulk and Thor/Vision would be able to endure it as well. The others would be in a pickle and I’d include Iron-Man in that since his suit hasn’t been the most durable as of late. Now, why wasn’t Yondu the character convincing for me? Well, he did just kind of sit there when all of his men were being executed. He was also taken in pretty easily considering he had the really cool arrow and should have done something the instant a mutiny was starting. Take no chances when you’re the Captain! The transporting kids part didn’t do him any wonders either.

The Sovereign people weren’t bad either. I liked their video games and the idea of a virtual army is like something out of World Trigger. You actually feel bad for them to an extent since they held up their end of the bargain while the Guardians broke theirs. Still, we’re supposed to side with the Guardians since they’re the protagonists. I just couldn’t blame the Sovereign for wanting revenge. They just gotta work on their 3D Galaga skills and they’ll be all right for the re match. Their new secret weapon should help as well.

Nebula has probably improved the most since the first film. Her transition into being more of a rival went pretty smoothly. I think there was a little forced emotion when she was reminding the audience of her backstory since I don’t think Nebula cries easy. The whole film was maybe trying a little too hard in that end, but I guess as long as we get the “almost” death of the main character each time than it’s a good tradeoff. They always come so close, but don’t end up kicking the bucket because someone else is there to save them.

Mantis is an alien being who doesn’t know much about anything. She was raised by Ego in exchange for her assistance in getting him to rest every day. Unfortunately, the Guardians are the ones who help her expand her horizons so the lessons that she learns aren’t the greatest ones. She’s a decent character. Mantis’ character tropes aren’t really my style but I guess you can say that she did all that she could with them.

Finally, we have Ego. There’s nothing really likable about him and I can definitely say that the character fell flat. He didn’t do anything for me even if he did have cool abilities. The problem is that he’s way too overpowered. You know ahead of time that the heroes will need some plot hax if they want to come out on top. It delivers as it always comes through in the clutch, but they should have made him a little weaker. At least what wasn’t plot hax was the brief Man of Steel homage fight scene. That was pretty neat as you can instantly see where it took notes on the Zod vs Superman battle. If strength correlated with likability than Ego would be at the top, but it’s just not the case. He works well enough as a villain, but don’t expect to root for him.

As far as the soundtrack goes, the tunes are pretty good again. Most of them aren’t all that memorable, but it’s always nice to hear songs from the 80s. They’re just very catchy and it will remind you of the good ole days. The themes stand out and the best part is that you know the film had a soundtrack. There are a bunch of films that you’ll finish and wonder if they actually had any music to begin with. This film just didn’t have that problem.

The visuals are also pretty sharp for this film. Marvel is still a few years behind DC when it comes to the effects, but they’re getting closer. The brief fight with Peter and Ego was a lot of fun and I liked the Mass Effect Ego design. Peter’s element gun looked a little weaker this time as the blasts were quite small, but as long as it’s a blast I’ll take it anyway. You’ll go into the film expecting the graphics to be good since this is a space film and all so it’s good that you will not be disappointed.

One thing that the film definitely did right was its references. It was fun to be reminded of what we all loved about the 80’s. There’s a certain reference/guest star appearance in particular that worked really well. This iconic figure reminded me that I definitely couldn’t give the film a negative score. It had its issues, but the film reminded me that it could be classy. Moreover, you’ll probably gain some respect for the character who uses this guest star. It was a really exciting moment and the only thing that could have made it even better would have been an extended fight scene where Ego fights the Sm4sh version of this icon.

That was an example of humor done right. Unfortunately, as a whole the film did have an issue with the humor. The problem is that Guardians just isn’t a very funny film. Airplane probably had more laughs in 10 minutes than this film had in its whole generation. I blame it partially on the terrible writing, but it’s also because the film really televises all of its jokes ahead of time. For example, when a guy with a scarred face calls the gold villains. You instantly know what the joke will be and how it will be handled. That’s a bit of a problem because it’s not going to be as funny if you see it coming right? That’s how the film handled most of its jokes. It could have learned a thing or two from the Plane film.

One thing that made that film so funny was how sudden the jokes would occur. When the main character was asked if he wants a smoking or no smoking ticket you didn’t expect a good joke, but then they pull out a ticket that has smoke coming out of it. That was an excellently handled joke. Granted, the film had some bad jokes as well, but the ratio was in its favor and the good jokes wee really good. The best joke in Guardians would have trouble breaking even in Airplane. In this case, I don’t even think we can blame it on the characters all that much since they should still be good at humor.

Also, I’m not saying that the humor is terrible or anything like that. The film still did have a few moments here and there and you can definitely tell that it tried. It’s probably just a writing limitation. Unfortunately, the writing is fairly weak. There’s a lot of language throughout and edgy lines that serve no purpose being here. Some of the dialogues between the characters will make you wince or try to tune them out. Rocket threatening to place something vile on Peter’s bed was just sad and Ego talking about how he built his body was unnecessary. It’s little scenes like that coupled with everything else that begin to add up through the long haul.

Despite all of this, you should be satisfied with the action and explosions here. The film gives you everything you could want in a summer blockbuster. There’s a lot of banter and excitement around most corners. There are points in the film where not much happens, but I still wouldn’t really call these parts boring as the setting and characters are interesting enough. There are two kinds of films. Those that are fun to watch regardless of their quality and those that are not. I can safely say that this one is still enjoyable enough where you can try to overlook the negatives until the film ends. Your opinion of it will then start to deteriorate, but that’s an after effect. I’d also see this any day of the week over many other films.

One thing I’ll hope for in the third film is a longer fight. We had a brief fight with Peter and Quill, but that was the only real fight in the movie. The rest of the action scenes were just general action scenes against giant monsters or massacre fight scenes with the heroes wrecking a lot of flunkies. I’m hoping for more actual fights since the first film had quite a few of those. The Nebula vs Gamora fights here would be a highlight in that regard although again…they were pretty short. I always place fights above action scenes, but naturally having both of them is always a good thing.

There are quite a few post credit scenes 80’s style. They’re filmed like bloopers in a sense, but take place after the film. Some are important and others aren’t. One of them teases a new character who may show up in the 3rd film. Honestly, I wish he had shown up here since a fight with Ego probably would have been a lot of fun. Also, this guy is a personal favorite of mine so I have no doubt that he would have elevated the film. Another scene showed a group of classic characters. I can’t say that I’m super hyped for the group, but I did think that the rocky actor stole the show so it’d be pretty fun to see him return. A certain teenager who appears in one of the scenes is someone that I hope to never see show up. Luckily this wish will likely be granted. It was fun to see various cameos during the film as well. Referencing the rest of the Marvel cosmic mythos is always a good idea. Sadly Thanos didn’t show up this time, but Infinity War is finally getting closer so that’s good.

Overall, Volume 2 had quite a lot of problems. It started out really rough, had a bumpy ride during the middle, and then had a reasonably good climax. It’s still a fairly engaging film, but it tries way too hard to be funny. It’s an unsuccessful attempt. The characters are unlikable which takes you out of the film at times especially in Groot’s case. This is one of those films that I wouldn’t want to watch again at least not for a very, very long while, but for a one time viewing it wasn’t bad. At the very least you can’t say that the film isn’t engaging. There’s a good amount of action and excitement all around with witty dialogue in between all of the “witty” dialogue. I’d make a parallel to films like Suicide Squad, Lucy, Batman vs Robin, and other such films. They’re pretty entertaining while you watch them, but afterwards you still can’t give them a positive It’ll be fun to see the team show up in Infinity War, but beyond that, the Guardians don’t need another film. That or we just need a fresh new take on the Guardians. Get some new writers and we’ll see what they can do. In the meantime, I’m cautiously optimistic about Thor: Ragnarok (Gladiator scenarios don’t have the greatest track record and I can totally imagine some animal violence there, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt) and Spider-Man. (Worst Peter Parker…ever!) With the summer just starting, we’ll see how the rest of the films stack up. King Kong and Guardians may not have led it off to the strongest of starts, but the year is young.

Overall 5/10

The Band Concert Review

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It’s time for another classic Disney review! In this special, Mickey Mouse is actually the antagonist for once. In my head canon, Mickey Mouse let the fame get to him and he forgot to look out for the little guys. As such, he is now the leader of a band and only allows top musicians to play with him. Donald tries to get in on the action, but Mickey reacts violently each time. He’ll have to think of something to get in on the act, but things get tough when a tornado sweeps through and carries them all off. Can Mickey finish his song or will Donald interfere again?

It’s a pretty entertaining special and I can see why people consider it to be one of Disney’s stronger ones. I thought it was more enjoyable than the others that I’ve seen as well. It’s pretty high energy the whole time. Sure, Mickey is pretty out of character, but it just goes to show that even he loses it once in a while. At least Mickey is super focused as not even the tornado could break his concentration. His team didn’t miss a beat and that’s why they’re considered as the pros.

Meanwhile, Donald Duck did his best to fit in. He didn’t let the others get him down and came with a lot of flutes just in case. I’d say that he’s easily the best character in this special. Donald is a reminder to us all that nobody can stop you from playing your tunes except for yourself. This special was a little light on dialogue so we didn’t get to hear Donald’s iconic voice as much as I’d like, but it’s still always fun to see him on screen. Donald is certainly my favorite from the old Disney characters. Another bonus is that Goofy doesn’t get much to do here since it’s just a bunch of Goofy ripoffs in the band and none of them have any lines if I recall correctly. Most excellent!

The actual song that the band was playing was pretty good as well. I definitely don’t mind old style songs for a special like this one. After all, something like Brave or Excalibur Clash wouldn’t fit so well right? I sometimes like to wonder what is better, to have a really epic song for something simple like baking a cake or to have a fairly uneventful theme playing the whole time. The latter would be forgettable, but the former would hint at something epic coming up and then you’d just be disappointed. It’s a tough question for sure.

Overall, it’s fun to check out these retro specials. They’re really short so you can breeze through them, but the animation holds up well. Mickey Mouse and the others certainly got iconic through these shorts so Disney knew how to market even back then. Still, I doubt anyone could have ever guessed just how legendary they would ultimately end up being. There are a lot of specials so it’ll probably be a while before I see them all, but I’m getting there step by step.

Overall 7/10

The Whalers Review

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It’s time for the second Disney special. On TV they aired both back to back which was pretty neat. This one is a little more of a big deal since it’s the crossover between Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Seeing the three of them on the big screen was intense. Despite this, it actually wasn’t as good as the Donald special though. Lets face it, Goofy can’t really hold his own next to the other two and Donald just makes for a more entertaining character.

The special starts off with Mickey Mouse getting another reality warper upset. This causes a bunch of water to come alive and constantly knock Mickey around. Mickey takes it in stride, but after getting knocked around the whole boat for a while, he realizes that he is in over his head. Donald tries to eat a sandwich, but he takes a little too long so the bird take it off of his hands. Meanwhile, Goofy keeps setting himself on fire, which is most unfortunate. The three of them have definitely fallen on hard times and they certainly can’t hope to snag a whale this way. Ah well…maybe they should have gone fishing instead.

The animation is pretty clean as you’d expect. The colors are all pretty seamless so you can see how much effort was put into the character designs. From the 3 plots, Mickey was probably the best even if it was rather repetitive. After getting blasted by the water for the 2nd and 3rd time, you kinda get the point. The Goofy plot was your typical slap stick. It wasn’t anything special, but at least Goofy always tries. Donald’s plight was the most sympathetic since everyone really wants to be able to finish their lunch in peace. Donald did an admirable job of trying to hold on, but you really can’t stop the birds. The three plots converged at the end, but even teaming up they weren’t able to do much.

It’s pretty interesting that Mickey’s boat can essentially turn into a giant mouth that can eat people up. It was even more interesting how the Whale just barreled through the place. If we’ve learned anything from the classic Disney shorts, it’s that you really can’t mess with aquatic animals. They fear nobody and have the raw strength to back that attitude up.

Overall, The Whalers isn’t quite as fun as the Sea Scouts. That’s mainly because of the fact that the special which was already very short, had to also juggle 3 different plots before merging them. There’s not much time to do anything so they settle for just using one joke each and then reusing it until it’s time to shift gears. I think a better use of its time would have been to have just had all 3 characters on screen at once. With one plot, then the special could have given them more things to do. It’s fun enough though and it’s so short that it’s not a big investment of your time. I’d recommend checking it out. Try to imagine how you’d handle the Mickey situation differently and think about your odds of success. There wasn’t much he could have done, but I would have at least gone under the ship into the boiler room. The water would probably be a little scared to follow me in there!

Overall 6/10